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EXCLUSIVE: Big changes to American Express Platinum on the way (including a metal card and higher fee!)

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American Express is planning yet more changes to its UK card portfolio, this time on The Platinum CardFor once, you are getting four weeks notice of what is going to happen.

Whether you are a cardholder or just a potential cardholder, you have time to make your plans accordingly.

Here is the news in a nutshell:

The Platinum Card will be made from metal, not plastic – see the image below

The annual fee increases from £450 to £575, albeit with some modest improvements in benefits

The spend required to earn the 30,000 points sign-up bonus is doubling

The new fee and benefits come into effect from 11th June for new cardholders.  Existing cardholders will receive the new benefits from 11th June and will be charged the higher fee on their next renewal after 1st August.

New UK American Express Platinum metal card

Let’s look at the new package in detail:

A new Platinum card, made from metal

American Express launched a metal version of The Platinum Card in the US in 2017 and has been slowly rolling it out since.  Arguably they have missed the boat in the UK, since Curve, N26 (N26 Metal reviewed here) and Revolut (Revolut Metal reviewed here) have all launched in the last six months.

I have been using a metal Curve card for a few months.  They are surprisingly heavy and fall out of your wallet easily.  The good news is that I have never had a problem using it in a card terminal or ATM.

New cardholders from 11th June will receive a metal card automatically.  Existing cardholders will receive one when their current card expires.  If that is a long way away, I imagine that if you call after 11th June to say that you have lost your card, the replacement may well be metal …..

Platinum supplementary cards will also be issued in metal.

Looking at the image above, I image that – like Curve – your name, card number and expiry date will be printed on the back of the card to make the front look more stylish.

An increased fee, from £450 to £575

Existing cardholders will be billed £575 from their next renewal after 1st August.  New cardholders will pay £575 from 11th June.

If you apply before 11th June you will pay the existing £450 for the first year.

Additional Platinum supplementary cards go up from £170 to £285

Additional Platinum supplementary cards after the first free one will be charged at £285 instead of £170.

Whilst this is a sharp jump, the current £170 fee for additional Platinum supplementary cards is ludicrously cheap.  You can basically give someone full Priority Pass membership (admits two), Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade, Melia Rewards Gold, Eurostar lounge access, full travel insurance etc for £170 per year.  It is exceptional value and couldn’t last.

Additional supplementary cards issued as Gold cards will continue to be free but will continue to not have any benefits except for being covered by The Platinum Card travel insurance.

A sharp jump in the spend needed to trigger the sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is a generous 30,000 Membership Rewards points.  This converts into 30,000 Avios or various other airline and hotel schemes.  Airline transfer rates are 1:1.  The hotel transfer rates are 1:2 into Hilton, 2:3 into Marriott and 1:3 into Radisson.  You can also convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar.  You can see the partner list on the Membership Rewards site here.

From 11th June, new applicants will need to spend £4,000 within three months to trigger the sign-up bonus.  This is a sharp increase on the current £2,000.  You should apply before 11th June if £4,000 would be a stretch.

£10 per month of Addison Lee credit

Cardholders will receive £10 cashback per month on Addison Lee taxi rides charged to their card.  This does not accumulate if unused in any particular month.

If you use this, you will save £120 per year which offsets the fee increase.  This is fairly easy if you live in London but far more difficult if you don’t.

This benefit is only available to the primary cardholder and not to the Platinum supplementary cardholder.  The annual benefit is therefore capped at £120.

$200 credit on EVERY onefinestay house rental

This is potentially very interesting.  You will get $200 cashback each time you spend $200 or local currency equivalent on The Platinum Card on a onefinestay house or apartment rental.

(Rentals in the UK receive £150 cashback on stays of £150+.  Rentals in the Eurozone receive €170 cashback on stays on €170+.)

I thought this would come with a catch, but it doesn’t.  I have spoken to Amex and you will get the cashback on each and every booking.  The nearest thing to a ‘gotcha’ is that you must opt-in to this benefit via the American Express website when it goes live on 11th June.  If you forget to opt in, you won’t receive your cashback.

The only snag is with onefinestay itself.  Most of their houses require a three night minimum stays – not all of them, but most.  Looking at a low cost country such as Thailand, the cheapest place I could find is $185 per night in Koh Samui with a three night minimum.  The cheapest with a two night minimum is $450 per night – although you are, of course, getting a monumentally large Koh Samui villa for this!  If you think that you will be able to book yourself a cheap $200 property and essentially pay nothing due to the $200 cashback, you will be disappointed.

Other new benefits that I won’t insult your intelligence with by pretending they are useful

You will be able to book American Express restaurant partners via the Amex app instead of calling (some of these deals are OK, to be fair, and offer benefits such as a free glass of champagne to cardholders)

You will be able to message American Express from inside the Amex app

You will be able to use the American Express Centurion Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 when it opens later this year (I have no doubt that this will be an excellent lounge – Centurion Lounges have a great reputation – but Platinum cardholders would have got access anyway and there are already two good Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 3.  There is nothing new about this.)

Conclusion

For existing Platinum cardholders, the key question is whether you can easily use the monthly Addison Lee credit.

If you will, the increase in annual fee is offset and you are in a similar position to where you are today.  If you can’t use the Addison Lee credit, you are facing a £125 fee increase with very little in return, unless you become a heavy onefinestay user.

For potential new Platinum cardholders, the increase in target spend to £4,000 within three months to trigger the sign-up bonus could be a deal-breaker.  I strongly recommend applying before 11th June to lock in the existing £2,000 spending target if you can.  You can apply here – note that the website will not be updated with the new details until 11th June.

(As a reminder, you qualify for the 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus if you have not had any card which earns Membership Rewards points – ie Gold, Green, Platinum, Centurion or the Amex Rewards Credit Card – in the past 24 months.)

In general, you need to look at The Platinum Card like an iPhone.  You could, in theory, save a lot of money by scrapping your iPhone and buying a torch, alarm clock, Chromebook, portable hi-fi, calculator, stopwatch and a non-smartphone separately.  Most people don’t.

Similarly, you could drop your Platinum card and:

pay for travel insurance for your entire family and the families of five random people you would otherwise give a supplementary card

pay for car hire insurance when you rent (although insurance4carhire will sell you an annual policy cheaply)

pay for airport lounge access, potentially via a Priority Pass (or buy pricier tickets which include it)

pay more for luxury hotels rather than using Fine Hotels & Resorts (admittedly you can book many FHR properties with similar benefits via our hotel partner Bon Vivant)

pay more for Eurostar tickets to get lounge access via your ticket type

pay for better quality rooms and breakfast at Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, Melia and Shangri-La hotels instead of relying on your status benefits 

pay for an ice scraper for your car rather than using the new metal Platinum card

etc etc.  You need to do the maths based on your own personal circumstances.

Should I apply for The Platinum Card NOW to lock in the £2,000 bonus spend target and the £450 fee?

Probably.  You will get a better deal than usual, because you will only pay £450 but will earn 11 x £10 Addison Lee credits before your first renewal at the higher rate.

Wait until tomorrow, however, when I will run a full article on what The Platinum Card gets you.

The Platinum Card website is here if you want to apply or find out more, although the benefits I describe above will not be shown until 11th June.

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Comments

  1. It is interesting Rob you mentioned giving your insurance to your mum. If you have a partner and parents are around, the worldwide travel insurance could be applied to a few families.

    I guess they do not need to live under the same addresses.

  2. Just saw on the platinum benefits page that Boingo is going after 30th June 2019, not that it ever worked for me!

    • P.S. Existing members can use the service until 31st of Decemeber 2019.

    • It was the same last year. They keep extending it.

      • Timbo says:

        I hope so! I spend most of my weeknights in hotels around the country, Boingo membership has been a lifesaver on occasion.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Didn’t it end on the uk card years ago?

        Atleast that what everyone was saying. Still works for me.

        • It was supposed to, but they just kept extending it. It’s been going away for at least 3 years now.

  3. Mike Wilson says:

    Do existing Platinum cardholders who have a renewal in July get the £450 rate or the £575 rate?

    • Peter K says:

      Copied from very near the start of the article above:

      “The new fee and benefits come into effect from 11th June for new cardholders. Existing cardholders will receive the new benefits from 11th June and will be charged the higher fee on their next renewal after 1st August.”

  4. I just realised that my anniversary date is 30th of June. That means the 13th statement will be cut well into July. Which means I’ll get almost a full year on the old fee.

  5. I actually think that they are very confused on where exactly they stand in the UK. If you weren’t at the Platinum House event in London last year, it was full of millennials. But I highly doubt that their average UK Platinum cardmember is a millennial.

    • ‘Cos the rest of us are at home reading Captain Underpants books to 7-year olds ….

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Millennials are 25-40 now so not really that surprising is it? I’ve had one on and off for the past 5-6 years and I’m not that far into my 30’s.

    • Freddy says:

      Who do you think a typical plat card user is?

      • Like all luxury items, the average customer is substantially older than the brands like to admit, for fear of looking uncool.

    • Tenco says:

      Agree with the above. That’s why there’s so much talk about Amex shifting focus towards the Instagram generation (Gen Zers).

  6. Brian says:

    Hi Rob and everyone,

    Just applied for the Green card.

    Is it worth waiting for the first statement to arrive before upgrading to Platinum or has they fixed the annual fee workaround in which case there’s no point in waiting?

    Thanks.

    • It’s been fixed. Only worked on the gold charge where there was first year free.

  7. Sharon says:

    Is this fir the personal card only and not the business card?
    I’ve got Plat personal and a Gold for my business so am wondering if it’s worth upgrading my business card and binning my personal one.

  8. Nigel Williams says:

    In theory, if you had a USA address available – It would be cheaper just to get the US Platinum (with the better benefits such as airline allowances) and basically just spend in the UK with the 0% FX on the UK card, would it not?

    If the above is true, then it really shows how wrong Amex has got this. :/

    • Montagu says:

      Yes. And agreed.

    • Do you need your own US address? Could I use my brother’s for example who lives in the states and have him mail me the card?

    • Matthew says:

      Yes you can through the global card transfer. Amex can pull up your UK profile and let you apply for a US card without a social security number. All you need is an address.

      • Matthew says:

        Just to add on to my previous comment, I’ve done this before and no address verification was needed.

      • How do you pay the bill? While the US card has 0% FX, unless you have USD income or savings you would need to exchange GBP to USD, perhaps via Revolut or Transferwise, every time a transaction posts (which will probably be at a 0.25% worse rate, but acceptable) or else you risk the exchange rate going in the wrong direction

        • Having done the global transfer years ago (and still having both UK and US cards), you need:
          A US bank account
          A US address (doesn’t have to be yours).

          You do not need a SSN or ITIN – amex will put your passport number in that field until you have a SSN (I waited several years as I actually forgot to give it to them after I obtained it).
          You don’t need a SSN to open a non-resident bank account either if you fill in a W8BEN, but you have to be in the US to open it, they won’t do it remotely.

          Your US amex will have the same ‘member since’ date as your UK account too, which is nice.

          • Trestets says:

            This cant be right. Whats the impact of a ‘new’ application from the UK on US card sign-on bonuses then?

            What stops me then from as UK citizen applying to the US Amexs and getting their bonuses? Or does it HAVE to be through this ‘global transfer’ route in which case I presume you aren’t eligible for bonus spend?

      • Trestets says:

        [Repeat of a question which was at the lowest possible level in this thread (preventing a response)]

        This cant be right. Whats the impact of a ‘new’ application from the UK on US card sign-on bonuses then?

        What stops me then from as UK citizen applying to the US Amexs and getting their bonuses? Or does it HAVE to be through this ‘global transfer’ route in which case I presume you aren’t eligible for bonus points spend?

        • Nothing….if you have a US credit score.

          Thats what global transfer does – bypasses the need for a US credit score, by using your overseas amex history instead and backdating it, and it works very well. You can keep your UK card open as well, and the accounts on the opposite sides of the atlantic operate completely independently (with two different apps, and two different logins).

          I seem to remember I did get the sign up bonus when I used global transfer for my first US amex too.

    • Is it possible to get a US Amex without a social security number?

  9. Just got off customer support with Amex. My plat card is up for renewal next week and I clarified with the agent what my fee terms would be like. I was informed that I would be billed £450 on June 1st (hurrah) but subsequently on June 11 refunded on a pro-rata basis the £450 and charged the higher £575.

    Rob, are you certain that we can lock in the old fee if we were to renew/apply before June 11? Or was the CS agent I talked to incorred?

    • BlueHorizonuk says:

      This seems to be incorrect as it means that everyone is getting charged £575 on June 11 no matter when renewal is.

      • 100% certain because I have Amex’s internal briefing notes.

        • Thanks for confirming! Might stay with plat for another year if I can lock in at £450 and hopefully get a metal card as well.

      • EwanG says:

        If that was the case, Amex would need to have sent letters to us all by now informing impacted cardholders of the changes. The existing T&Cs will say what notice is required, probably 30 days (plus they should factor in 2 days for posting), but it might be longer because it’s detrimental and due to legislation.

        Mr K – I strongly suspect the Amex CSA was talking rubbish!

    • Harry says:

      A case of the Amex donkeys in Brighton not knowing anything again….

  10. David says:

    I’ve downloaded the Addison Lee app and had a play. Pricing is terrible.
    Really can’t see myself making any use of it.

    However much they are paying them (expecting far below 10.00/month), would have been better as credit at Amex Travel. Even if virtually zero.

    • There is a £10 minimum on MyTaxi and Gett now so – as someone who tends to do a lot of short hops – it should still work out. I end up paying £10 for trips which are £8 on the meter so even if AddLee is 20% above that it is still a £10 charge!

      • Nigel Williams says:

        Still pricer than Uber, unfortunately.

        Why they haven’t followed their US card in provided Uber credit (which can be used for Eats as well) is a mystery.

        • Uber and Tesco are divorcing too. It may be that Uber feels it doesn’t need to subsidise these deals any longer. It was clearly losing money on Tesco given that the driver cut of the ride money will have been far higher than Tesco was paying Uber for the credit.

          • Addison Lee are a tenner more than 2 other cab firms for a journey I priced up

    • cjguk says:

      I used to always use Addison Lee but now choose Uber as it’s so much cheaper. A journey that used to cost £13 with AL usually costs no more than £7 with Uber

      • Shoestring says:

        Not comparing Executive cars with old bangers of course 🙂

        • Michael says:

          As long as it’s clean and you’re not trying to impress a woman or a client – there’s no need to worry as long as you get there safely in my opinion.

          • Shoestring says:

            …missing the point…you can’t say Addison Lee is much more expensive than Uber if AL provide an Exec car and Uber use any old car…

            oh yeah! – travelling Business Class is a rip off because it’s way more expensive than Economy! 🙂

          • David says:

            Shoestring I don’t think that comparison to airline seats / service stands up at all for a car service / taxi.

            The difference is not significant, unless you only fly business class for some kind of ‘status’ reason (and I’m not talking FFP) rather than practical.

        • Anthony Edwards says:

          Both are mostly Prius in my experience.

          • Freddie says:

            +1

          • Binks says:

            I use to use AL a lot for work and can say the professionalism of the drivers and ford galaxy card beat a tin can ride in an Uber Prius any day. 80% of my Uber rides tend to be in a Prius and I am not a fan at all.

          • Binks says:

            Car*

  11. Anybody seen any sign of club card covers ion bonus, competitions etc for BA or Virgin this quarter?

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